The secret is out. Ro James is on a mission. The church boy turned R&B bad boy proves R&B is not dead after all. Gritty. Steamy. Downright erotic. Grown folks music surges on full force thanks in part to James debut album, ELDORADO, entering at #3 on the Billboard R&B Chart, and his three-part EPs, Coke, Jack and Cadillacs.
The Germany born crooner, with footprints in Texas, Illinois, California, and Indiana, just to name a few, is singlehandedly reviving soul music. Bouncing to the beat of his own drum, the RCA signee is making his own set of rules, needing nobody’s permission, but, you already knew that. Leading single, “Permission,” was a teasing eargasm, a sweet introduction to James massive talent. Pen goals, anyone?
The sweet talking and magnetic wooer is finally receiving overdue recognition, receiving his first ever Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance and an NAACP Image Award nod for Outstanding New Artist, is fate’s example that your season may not come when you want it, but it’s always on time.
And if you missed experiencing his live performance alongside Maxwell and Mary J. Blige‘s King and Queen of Hearts tour, no worries. The songwriter is prepping his own headlining tour, XIX, where his name shines on the marquee in 23 U.S. cities starting in February 2017.
Simply put, Ro got next.
The Source caught up with James during his Chicago tour stop on Friday, December 16, as he talked about his first ever Grammy nomination and more.
The Source: Congratulations on your first Grammy nomination! Where were you when you got the news?
Ro James: I was on the road- I don’t even remember the place I was that’s the crazy part. It was 6am and my phone was going crazy and I was like, ‘Yo what is going on?!’ And one of my friends hit me up saying congratulations on your Grammy nomination, but I hadn’t heard anything yet, so I started to look at my texts. I thought wow, it’s crazy, my first Grammy nomination!
How does it feel? Does it feel real to you yet?
Nah. I don’t think it’ll feel real until I’m actually there. But I’m excited about it! I think a Grammy is something all artists aspire to obtain. You know you always give the first to your mom. But just to be nominated is an honor.
And the NAACP Image Awards too!
Nothing but blessings.
And you’re headlining your own tour, too. What can fans expect?
I start in February to March- about 20 cities. Yo, I’m so excited. I’m going back and forth with the creative director just trying to figure out which concept I want to go with. But fans can expect real music, me doing a full set, right now before Mary and Max it’s a very short set, I’m the warm up for them, which is still an amazing honor. But for my own I get to really break my story down and bring my energy.
When’s the last time you cried?
That’s a good question. It’s been a little while, I probably should cry. I need to do that because I been keeping everything inside- all this emotion from the album, even when I found out “Permission” went number 1, like that’s what’s up! And I just had to keep going because I was on tour. Like that’s cool, but keep going.
I’m sure once I just sit down for a minute and just evaluate and collect my thoughts it’ll come, it’s been such a crazy journey. I remember when people said I couldn’t do it or said I wasn’t as good as this person or that person, so with those things people say it causes you to go into yourself and pull out your best self. Like you already know who you are but it’s like, OK, I got you. So that’s how I feel like this year has been for me. Staying quiet and moving in silence. Like yeah you counted me out but watch me. But this year has been a blessing. And now at the same time it’s like OOoohhh I can kinda act up a little bit, like I did it! And now I get to do it my way for real, so I’m excited.
What’s something about you that can’t be Googled?
Dang, I don’t even know if I want to tell it if it ain’t on Google! *laughs* Everything you need to know is right there.
But I’m going to answer that question like that; we’re in this generation where everything is so accessible, everybody want to know who you f*cking, what you doing, where you at, what vacation you going on, what car you driving, how much gas you got, how much money you got, how many sneakers you got, oh you wore those same sneakers last week.
And in reality- I have a daughter and you shouldn’t know her name. If you think about it the context of artistry the real reason people aren’t respected as artists is because it’s out there too much. There’s no mystery, no intrigue, so yeah, you don’t need to know what’s not on Google, it’s for me to know and you to find out! *laughs*
Ro Jame’s debut album, ELDORADO, is available now.
For XIX tour dates, click here.